City staff report to Transportation Committee re LRT for 10 July 2013 meeting

Note: The full 40 page report is available on the City’s web site at
http://app05.ottawa.ca/sirepub/cache/2/xeuaeolz1wpcpz1nuwc02ppw/7066007042013122925951.PDF

It is also available here at
https://westernlrt.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/city-staff-lrt-report-to-committee-for-10jul13.pdf

Executive Summary

REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS
That Transportation Committee recommend that Council:

  1. Approve the Richmond Underground corridor as the preferred corridor to extend Light Rail Transit westerly from Bayview Station to Baseline Station, as described in this report;
  2.  Direct staff to complete the functional design for the Richmond Underground corridor; and
  3.  Direct staff to complete the Environmental Assessment process and documentation based on the functional design and file the Environmental Study Report in accordance with the Ontario Transit Regulation 231/08

Assumption and Analysis

The Western Light Rail Transit Corridor (WLRTC) from Bayview to Baseline was identified in the 2008 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) as the next phase for LRT implementation following the completion of the Confederation Line from Blair Road to Tunneys Pasture.

On June 6, 2012, staff presented an Interim Report to Council including the long list of alternative corridors and the analysis results, and recommended that the top four corridors, all in the northern part of the study area, be carried forward for further analysis. Furthermore, the report concluded that Carling Avenue, as a primary corridor, should not be considered any further due to its low score on the criteria established in accordance with the Environmental Assessment process.

On June 27, 2012, Council directed staff to do an additional analysis of Carling as well as develop a preferred WLRT alignment that is fully informed by the long-range planning work of both the National Capital Commission (NCC) and City of Ottawa, and bring back the results of this analysis along with a technically preferred WLRTC alignment in mid 2013.

The study team revisited a number of issues, including the development of a lower cost Carling alignment which was compared to the previously developed 15 alternatives and determined it still scored well below the top four corridors. In addition, Capital Transit Partners (CTP) were hired to provide an independent Peer Review of the analysis and conclusions of the study as well as cost estimates.

Based on the feedback and further analysis, the Carling corridor was removed from further study. As well, efforts to work with the NCC and applying specific capital interest criteria to jointly evaluate the top four corridors helped to identify alternate and more refined alignments for potential preferred corridors. These refined alternatives were likewise jointly evaluated. Among these, the Richmond Underground alternative scored the highest because it has a significantly reduced impact on the greenspace along the Parkway Corridor and the Byron Linear Park, it fulfills the long-term rapid transit objectives by serving both regional and local needs fits into the long-term transit network, and with a $980 million price tag (2013 dollars, class D estimate) it is considered financially affordable as described below.

Financial Implications

A review of the Citys Transportation Master Plan is currently underway which will include an assessment of the Plans affordability. This will include an update to the financial model for transit within the affordability parameters established under the Transit Long Range Financial Plan report of 2011. This same 2011 Long Range Financial Plan for Transit which assessed overall affordability up to 2048 included $4 billion for light rail projects, including the Confederation Line, leaving approximately $2 billion for all other light rail projects.

Given the recommendation of the Western LRT Corridor preferred option at an estimated cost of $980 million is within the funding available for the next stage of light rail it is deemed, at this time, to be affordable.

This will be confirmed when the Transportation Master Plan Report is finalized in the fall of 2013.

Public Consultation /Input

Agency, Business, and Public Consultation Groups were formed at the beginning of the study in the spring of 2010. There were eight consultation group meetings. Members of consultation groups were given access to a study related File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site where all the background material and meeting notes have been posted.

The National Capital Commission, as a major agency stakeholder has been involved with the study from the early stages. NCC participation began with the development of the studys Statement of Work. A number of formal meetings between the City and NCC management and staff have taken place during the course of the study. The City will continue to work with the NCC on the refinements of the technically preferred alignment.

The general public has been involved with the study through three Public Open Houses (POH). The study was introduced at the first POH on November 29, 2010 at Tom Brown arena and 101 participants signed in. The technically preferred corridor was introduced at the second POH on April 25, 2013 at City Hall to 347 signed-in participants. The technically preferred corridor, based on NCC and public feedback, was presented at the third POH on June 17, 2013 at City Hall to 254 signed-in participants.

A study website http://www.ottawa.ca/westernLRT, set up at the beginning of the study, contains the most relevant bilingual background material.

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